Plot via Sundance
Tender caresses and enveloping embraces are portals into the life of Mack, a Black woman in Mississippi. Winding through the anticipation, love, and heartbreak she experiences from childhood to adulthood, the expressionist journey is an ode to connection — with loved ones and with place.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt is a poetic title. So it’s not surprising that Raven Jackson’s first feature unfolds as a visual poem.
A good poem will explore variations on an image in infinite variety. It will take that image outward or inward, depending on where the poet thinks the soul of that image exists in— outward to the universal or inward to the hurting, searching personal self or both.
All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt has chosen the inner path, but it’s a path that explodes outward into time and space, to the gestures between us, and our connections to the dirt, rain and Mother Earth.
It’s images are rain, the healing and loving embraces shared between everyone expanded into the variations time, emotions and memory grants lovers, children, parents, the individual self.
And so it’s appropriate that All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt tells its story over decades of Mississippi rains, years of embraces full of joy, sadness and hurt. That it hopscotch between as it feels emotions, recall memories of this embrace and those before it. It’s the rain, the touch, the connection between when rain makes the earth mud and it’s lack creates the dry dirt that sifts through our hands. All are needed to complete our humanity.
Salt is not an easy film to sit though. It requires patience, understanding, wisdom and experience of the earth and self that most people living the urban life don’t explore or don’t know of. Yet, Salt doesn’t waste its imagery. It values it preciousness and gives the audience just enough time to absorb it into their emotional pathways, half understanding consciousness and permanently settle into their celluloid memories (or not).
It’s as complete as one life can be. It frustrates and rewards as only life can understand. It’s imperfect in its wholeness.
As far as we can know and understand life itself, Salt gets a B+, as a poem that can only celluloid can explore fully, it gets an A.
KAYLEE NICOLE JOHNSON
REGINALD HELMS JR.
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